Looking out my Backdoor: It's a doggy dog world


Last updated 7/22/2021 at 9:14am

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My friend Peggy used to ask me, in her booming voice, "What's your motive?" She caused me to examine stuff I'd really rather have left swept into the bulge under the rug. Peggy is gone these many years. But Peggy's big Irish voice lives on, in my head, whenever I make a decision, large or small. "What's your motive?" I hear as if we are sitting at the table, coffee mugs in hand. Voice followed by laughter.

Months ago I began thinking about getting a pet. Motive? Not that I necessarily wanted a cat or dog or goldfish, but with my enforced solitude due to this on-going pandemic, my isolation, and hesitancy to travel, perhaps a pet would force me out of my comfortable selfishness that seems a necessary component of so much alone time.

Motive? I hear Peggy ask, "What's your motive?" I don't really want a pet. I don't really want to be juggled out of my comfort place. So what is my motive?

I need somebody with whom to talk, selfishly, with whom to talk whenever I want to talk. Because I've been talking with myself entirely too often. All hours. Middle of the night. Talking with myself. Commenting on all manner of things. Having two-way conversations.

Back toward the end of May I put out a feeler to Ana and Michelle, the girls from Oconahua, friends who rescue dogs.

Cats? I adore cats but cats are out of the question. My neighbors next door have six cats. If I had a cat, either it would slither over the wall and abandon me or I would be inundated with visiting felines. No cats.

Besides, I rationalize, having a dog is a requirement to living in Mexico and I'm not sure how I've avoided detection this long. It's a wonder I've not been picketed or had a doghouse burned on my lawn or some other kind of retribution.

"So," I ask, "Do you have any dogs in your collection who might want to live elsewhere, one who is not comfortable in the pack, one with a quiet disposition?"

My friends looked at each other. "Lola?" they echoed.

"What size is she? I want neither an ankle-biter nor a huge dog who tends to lean on legs."

This is the Reader's Digest Condensed version of our several conversations which actually spanned weeks.

On Sunday I prepared a brunch feast of scones with fruit and heavy cream, soft-scrambled eggs and grilled ham steaks. My friends, dog in tow, came for the initial home visit, a meet and greet.

Today, Lola is mine, living with me on a test-drive, trial run, money-back guarantee, no-questions-asked try on for size.

Lola is a medium-sized mutt, street dog, rez dog. The best kind. Within an hour she found her own observation post, where she can watch the goings on in the neighborhood.

Already Lola has run to the gate to bark at Luna, a neighbor dog who got too close. She growled at a man walking by on the lane. She seems to have taken possession of my yard and patio.

Whew. Now perhaps I can stop talking to myself, stop talking with inanimate objects, and at least have the positive feedback of a cocked ear and a tail wag.

I think I have a new dog. Or is the other way around?


Sondra Ashton grew up in Harlem but spent most of her adult life out of state. She returned to see the Hi-Line with a perspective of delight. After several years back in Harlem, Ashton is seeking new experiences in Etzatlan, Mexico. Once a Montanan, always. Read Ashton's essays and other work at http://montanatumbleweed.blogspot.com/. Email [email protected]


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